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Non-conforming use of houses in Peshawar rife

August 19, 2012

PESHAWAR, Aug 19: Major town municipal administrations in the provincial capital are indifferent to the people doing business in residential areas without permission despite receiving many public complaints.

Ironically, they don’t have statistics on the extent of the illegal activity.

It is learnt that schools, colleges, hostels, hospitals, offices of national and international NGOs, guesthouses, clinics and restaurants illegally operate in Town-I and Town III residential areas without let or hindrance as the relevant administrations are indifferent to them.

Of late, the Peshawar High Court declared commercial activities in residential areas of the city illegal. The verdict was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

Until now, the town municipal administrations have asked people many times to stop doing illegal business only by issuing notices. No tangible action has been taken against these outlaws yet with an insider claiming that they heavily bribed the relevant TMA officials to get off scot-free.He said illegal educational institutions, NGO offices and guesthouses in the University Town, a posh area, totaled around 300.

The insider said the University Town had the international organisations’ offices, which were established long ago, but the relevant town administration increased their security instead of cracking down on them for being illegal.

He said many roads leading to these offices had been closed to traffic as part of security arrangements.

According to him, foreigners move in these residential areas under armed escort to the unrest of locals, who consider presence of international organisations’ offices in their localities threat to them.

Commercial activities are also carried out in Town-I areas, especially in Faqirabad, Zaryab Colony and Gulbahar, he said.

When contacted, Town-III administrator Noor Daraz Khattak said notices had been issued to owners of 300 commercial outlets in University Town asking them to wind up their businesses until August 28. “After the deadline expires, strict action will be taken against those, who fail to comply with the directives,” he said.

Mr Khattak said he had begun collecting data of commercial outlets in the areas, except University Town.

He added that after identification of new commercial outlets, notices would be issued to them.

When asked why the Town-III administration approves the maps of educational institutions and offices of different organisations, Mr Khattak said these offices had been established in the sprawling bungalows constructed for residential purpose not for offices.

“During my tenure, I have not approved a single map for construction of commercial outlets in the residential areas,” he claimed.

Town-I administrator Azmatullah Wazir told Dawn that his administration had also served notices on illegal educational institutions and commercial plazas in the areas under its control.

When asked about the number of commercial outlets in Town-I residential areas, he asked the correspondent to approach his subordinates for an answer.

However, Mr Wazir’s subordinates failed to provide the said data. They said they issued notices to those using residential units for commercial purposes at the complaint of local residents.